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Jacques Julliard. – Photo credits: François BOUCHON/Le Figaro

JACQUES JULLIARD'S NOTEBOOK – Interest is an insufficient motive for explaining the behavior of men and peoples, judges the historian* and essayist. It also examines the causes of the spectacular decline in the popularity of Emmanuel Macron.

The defeat of economics

Economism is the vision common to the two systems that have dominated the last century, Marxism and liberalism. It consists in bringing all social phenomena back to their material infrastructure; to make the production and distribution of wealth the ultimate foundation of society or, as our master, the great historian Ernest Labrousse said, their “least substitutable antecedent”.

As such, Marxism and liberalism are part of a materialist philosophy, if the latter is the explanation of the superior by the inferior. This is how Frédéric Rauh, a now well-forgotten philosopher from the beginning of the XNUMXth century, nicely called Marxism an “economic spiritualism”. It would therefore be in the economy that we should look for the origin and explanation of political or even intellectual phenomena. For the liberals, for example, it is the market economy which alone can produce democracy, to the exclusion of the controlled economy. Conversely, for Marxists, it is the abolition of property that alone will make men free.

Today, however, everyone observes that this system of explanation is increasingly contradicted by the facts. Here are some examples.

Thus, in good liberal logic, the spectacular growth of the Turkish economy over the last quarter of a century should have resulted in new progress of the secular and westernized regime established by Kemal Atatürk from 1923. Yet this is the opposite that happened. On the strength of his economic successes and the support of a majority of the population, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in the process of installing for his personal benefit a new oriental despotism, based on a conservative Islam that Atatürk had banished. In Turkey, the market economy goes hand in hand with an authoritarian and populist regime, a democracy, as we say now.

Even more spectacular and more worrying: the gigantic progress of the Chinese economy, now the second in the world while expecting better, has in no way resulted, as one might have expected, in a loosening of the political and intellectual grip that the Chinese Communist Party, which one would say immutable, imposes on society. Far from being determined by economic class relations, political life is dominated by clan struggles which oppose the "sons of princes" to the Youth League, against a background of corruption, sexual depravity and maintenance by all means of previously acquired positions of power. With President Xi Jinping, a new Maoism, based on the cult of personality and openly totalitarian tendencies, is taking shape. A Maoism much more dangerous than the previous one for world peace, because it feeds on imperialism in the China Sea and in the confrontation with the United States. All this could degenerate one day, when we know that the largest democracy in the world has ended up putting at its head a kind of incompetent and brutal Ubu in the person of Donald Trump. Where is the economic logic of these two behemoths?

And in France? Nothing of the sort, fortunately, and it happens that the end of economico-political parallelism gives birth to results that are all in all beneficial. For thirty years, the economic decline of the country, noticeable in the industrial sector, was accompanied by unemployment, stagnation of income, cultural insecurity and a feeling of abandonment in the working classes. Hence, in accordance with economist logic, the rise, election after election, of populist movements, mainly the National Front. No one doubted, a few months ago, that France was preparing to join England and the countries of Eastern Europe in the rejection of Europe and the headlong rush into xenophobia. However, it was enough for the courageous European positions taken by Emmanuel Macron during the presidential campaign to reverse the trend on a national and even international scale. The enthusiasm aroused by his election in many European countries, and even beyond, has no other explanation. It was in this case the well-placed rock which modifies the course of the river.

Of course, there are always strong minds to maintain after the fact that the turning point of the curve marked by Macron only translates deeper tendencies: we would have exaggerated the impact of populism in people's minds. Why didn't they say it three months ago, them old prophets?

So what happened? Quite simply that the European firmness of the new president has caused many citizens to think, tempted by a French-style Brexit. So much so that Marine Le Pen is struggling today like a devil in the Europhobic font and is seriously thinking of revising her positions.

Many farmers have ended up thinking that it is good to criticize Europe, it is a relief, provided they stay in it, a matter of well-understood interest.

What to conclude? That in short, the dominant ideologies of the last century, Marxism and liberalism, gave pride of place to interests and passed over in silence the place of passions in human behavior. But man often sacrifices his interests to his passions. This is what the French and English moralists of the seventeenth century asserted. Their anthropological vision was infinitely richer and more convincing than that crude economism that the industrialized nineteenth century had trivialized. How can we govern man wisely when we have such a simplistic and false image of him? The new art of governing, the need for which is felt after all the crimes and all the disappointments of this horrible XNUMXth century, involves a philosophical revision of the springs attributed to human nature.

Communicate, they say

All the current drama of Emmanuel Macron, in the process of tumbling in the opinion polls, comes from being persuaded that "to communicate" is an intransitive verb. Communicate, okay. But communicate what? If you have nothing to communicate, communication is just advertising, as we used to say. And it shows! As brilliant as the beginnings in international politics were, doubts set in – and how quickly! – in terms of domestic policy. In reality, while claiming to take the opposite view of François Hollande, Emmanuel Macron is reproducing the same error as his former protector; he does not explain to the people what his project is.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”Jacques Julliard” link=”” color=”#993300″ class=”” size=””]“We still do not know what the priorities of the President of the Republic are”[/perfectpullquote]

The turning point was the successive speeches of Macron and Philippe, one at Versailles, the other at the Palais Bourbon. The first too general, the second too specific. But the real policy was in between. The French sensed that they were being asked to make sacrifices, they would perhaps have accepted them if it had been clearly explained to them what they were intended for, within what overall plan they were part. De Gaulle did it wonderfully, and Mitterrand a little. The presidential function with which Emmanuel Macron is imbued involves direct contact with the people, simple language, clear objectives, at least understood by the citizens. However, we still do not know what the priorities of the President of the Republic are, which paths we take, which we avoid. At the crossroads, there is no more “at the same time”. There is a choice. Churchill, de Gaulle, Kohl, Jean-Paul II, the men who dominated Europe in the last century, were great simplifications. They didn't communicate, they said what they had to say.

The absence of clearly avowed intention on the part of Macron explains the very Dutch mess of recent weeks. Hence the clumsiness of its executors, who constantly contradict each other in financial matters, giving the people the impression that the truth is being hidden from them, because this truth is hardly pleasant. Add to that the affair of General de Villiers which will remain to Macron what the Leonarda affair was to Holland: a band-aid from which he never got rid of. We need today, not clever speeches, but a language of truth. We are still expecting a reference speech from Emmanuel Macron.

My district of Orange

Why do I have so much pleasure in returning to the Chorégies d'Orange every summer? Because it's the most beautiful place in the world to hear music and human voices! In the forty years that I have contracted the habit of them, I have not made a single infidelity to them, even at the time when the beautiful people, with a condescending pout, snubbed this popular spectacle. I must not be very far from my hundredth.

The most famous wall in the world with the Wall of China is, whatever one plays there, the most sumptuous, but also the most moving of the decorations. Each time the scenographer tries to compete with him, it is for his trouble, and even for his shame: witness this hideous head of a jester, in the shape of a snail of cardboard, which we were served beginning of July, on the sidelines of a beautiful Rigoletto.

Do you know what is the cardinal virtue of such a grandiose setting? That of prohibiting, on pain of ridicule and at the risk of a riot, the antics which directors have become accustomed to in contemporary theatre, in front of audiences petrified with respect and imbued with dramatic correctness.

Ah, the audience at Orange! It is the second reason for my fidelity to these choregies, I was going to say to these liturgies. He is the proof, if it were needed, that there is no real theatre, no real opera without an audience to match: no snob for a penny, like in Aix; nor a little candid, like at the Opéra Bastille, but a lively, colorful audience, where the classes of society mingle, united in the same love of Verdi, Puccini, Rossini or Bizet. Orange is one of the last places where the ideal of popular theater survives, as Jean Vilar made us love it: the communion of all in the masterpieces of the human spirit. When you come to Orange, don't be afraid to arrive early. Sit in the bleachers and see them fill, as the sun goes down on Provence, with this audience of connoisseurs who are also an audience of enthusiasts, according to Goethe's distinction.

Orange is to Verdi what Aix-en-Provence was once to Mozart or Bayreuth to Wagner. This year again, two Verdi were on the bill: Rigoletto and Aïda. Classic, hand-sewn, it's true. But it is necessary to fill twice for each show the eight thousand five hundred places of the bleachers, when all the subsidies amount to only 960 euros (against 000 million in Aix-en-Provence). The Chorégies derive most of their resources from ticketing (more than 8,5%), which is exceptional. Result: a cumulative deficit of 80 million euros. Under these conditions, it would be inadmissible, it would be unthinkable that, faced with the refusal of Société Générale and the banks to grant short or long-term loans, the State and local authorities should allow this masterpiece to collapse in peril that are the Chorégies, and that the work of Raymond Duffaut, which bowed out this year, is called into question. This was still present through the programming. He knew how to give his classics the most beautiful novelty: that of the performers. He was a great pearl fisherman, who offered almost unknown people the public, who made them great international stars, from Roberto Alagna to Patrizia Ciofi, passing through so many others. Unfortunately, Orange will now have to do without Duffaut and Roberto...

Just for once: the strongest impression I felt this year at Orange was the one given to me by the instrumental music. Beethoven's 9th Symphony, performed on July 18 by the Orchester philharmonique de Radio France under the direction of Myung-Whun Chung, exuded plenitude and gave birth to in everyone this serious joy which frees you from everyday life and restores in him the real hierarchy. values. An inhabited Chung, with an electric wand, his face turned inward, was a spectacle in itself. The projection of Klimt's works on the wall was a priori surprising: Klimt and Beethoven are water and fire. But why not, since the result was superb, especially in the last movement with choruses. A moment of great nobility.

Aida is an intimate opera, victim of its trumpets. This year, at Orange, it is the trumpets themselves that have fallen victim to its reputation. Director Paul-Émile Fourny's choice to explain the text (the invasive Egyptomania of the 1871th century and the circumstances of the premiere in XNUMX at the Cairo Opera) transformed the scene of the triumph into a pleasant social entertainment where gentlemen in Second Empire dress and ladies in light dresses wriggle vaguely. It's not clownishness, of course, but it's clownishness in the service of anything. Add to that a neuneu Egypt where the dog Anubis, the models of the Luxor temple, the pyramids of Gizeh and even the mask of Tutankhamen walk all along the plateau like in a museum on wheels.

Fortunately, there are the voices: that above all of the Georgian mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili, dazzling, sovereign, dominates the situation and wins the justified favor of the public. And the soprano Elena O'Connor, who replaced at short notice the titular Sondra Radvanovsky in the role of Aïda, displayed the full range of her young talent in the aria of Act III, on the banks of the Nile ( O patria mia…)

Next year, if all goes well, the Chorégies will begin with the Mephistopheles by Arrigo Boito (1842-1918), who for a long time rivaled Gounod's Faust. Who said that at Orange we only give nanars?

* Jacques Julliard is a columnist for the weekly “Marianne”.

Source: © Le Figaro Premium – Jacques Julliard: “Macron in the trap of “at the same time””

0 Comment

  • Cohen
    Published August 7 9h14 0Likes

    The art of communication, in this case, would it be, for Mr. Macron, only the art of dissimulation: These various declarations were made, it seems, only in order to seduce.
    It would be wrong to forget that promises only bind those who believe in them...
    Regarding the famous walls of the world, if the Great Wall of China occupies a prominent place, proportional to the size of the Middle Kingdom, it is not forbidden to cite another wall that has marked history, maybe because it is located in Jerusalem…

  • Disraeli
    Published August 8 0h53 0Likes

    Trump, an incompetent and brutal Ubu? It is enough to see the American economic machine turning, the fact that Trump has stopped the fall in prestige of the United States in the world (except near a certain left-wing press which does not accept the democratic game..)
    As for the Chorégies, it is worth pointing out that ticket prices have become totally out of reach for an average budget; but perhaps M. Julliard is invited?

  • Ren
    Published August 8 17h59 0Likes

    Incompetent Trump? Brutal, you say?
    He didn't need politics to start from nothing and build an empire: It's already the complete opposite of incompetent. It is rare this capacity confirmed by the duration.
    Brutal you say., Who did he fire, if not a person in whom he had lost all confidence and placed by predecessors. What to think of a million additional jobs which shows the confidence that his country has in him and brings unemployment down to 4,3%. How far removed from our already manipulated statistics.
    How many French presenters, critics, journalists are put aside today in less than two months of reign?. Thrown away, subjected to excessive fines to silence them. Isn't it rough?
    We did not hear you when Erdogan imprisoned and liquidated all opposition to his absolute power. Wasn't that brutal? Although you could say it's skill.
    A communicator, we are looking for a communicator. Mélanchon and one of the last remaining, but who wants his ideas?
    So we looked for others. We found some. They express their contempt and their disgust for French people, for white people. Anti-racists of course, although anti-Semitic but what does it matter?, they reveal themselves by proclaiming: “the girl, she's dead” in their own language. If asked, they would never have granted the Pantheon

  • jean dufour
    Published August 9 9h08 0Likes

    Mr Julliard did not notice that Micron was not properly elected but skilfully sold to the French as one sells a detergent that washes whiter. All the media have successfully promoted it to the delight of those who own the big media precisely because they own the multinationals first. The fate of the people is of little importance to these people.

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